Masbrough Chapel group hits out over future of heritage site

ROTHERHAM Council has been accused of showing no interest in the future of one of the town’s most historic landmarks.

The Friends of the Masbrough Chapel and Walker Mausoleum have disbanded eight months after he grade II-listed church — built by industrial pioneer Samuel Walker — was torched.

The friends had wanted to remove and rescue some of the historic plaques from the 18th century ruins following the two-day blaze in March.

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But secretary Eileen Hyland said: “We were anxious to try to salvage something, but I was told that even if they could be removed the council had nowhere to store them.

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“These are the memorials to one of Rotherham’s foremost families, instrumental in shaping the town.”

She added: “I think this sums up Rotherham Borough Council’s attitude. A group had come forward to offer space but the planning office has to be convinced that there is no other option than demolition before this can happen.

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“A group also interested in preserving the site has since explained to me that it may not be the best thing to do as it removes the historical integrity from the ruins.

“But this explanation was not forthcoming from the council just an outright disinterest in its future.”

The friends called an AGM where the decision to close was made. It followed ten years of trying to publicise the plight of the neglected heritage site.

A council spokesman said: “We’re very sad to hear about the Friends of Masbrough Chapel’s decision to disband.

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“They have worked tirelessly to help preserve one of the borough’s most important historical artefacts.

“The situation with the chapel has been complex from the start, and the council share many of the friends’ frustrations.

“We hope that we can continue working with former members in helping to preserve the chapel for future generations.”

The building — Rotherham’s first independent chapel — stood next to Masbrough Hall. The Walker Mausoleum was refurbished in the summer.

The friends’ website will remain live and Rotherham Heritage Association has agreed to keep a watching brief over the site.